Before we dive in, some basic rules for a horses to follow list is to keep them in a tracker and on your radar for the next three runs, bearing in mind ideal conditions across variables like venue, ground, opposition and price are satisfactory to you as a punter. This column should help you build up a list that proves profitable under those circumstances, provides timely reminders to reduce repeated form study and assist with your enjoyment of a season be it National Hunt or Flat racing in the UK and Ireland and sometimes beyond.
If you want to see previous editions check out Donn McClean's library of past horses to follow here.
The performance that Safe Voyage put up in finishing second in the "Sovereign Path" Handicap at Leopardstown on Saturday hasn't gone unnoticed, but there are so many positives about it, he is still worthy of inclusion here. For starters, he did really well to get as close as he did, coming from the rear as he did in a race in which the pace held up well. Dropped in by Jason Hart from his wide draw, he was still only 16th of the 18 runners when they straightened up for home, but he finished off his race best of all to pass 14 of the 15 horses who were in front of him, and failing by just a half a length to catch the 16th, the winner I'm A Gambler. He was in front three strides after the winning line.
It was a race in which early pace was rewarded. The winner was third turning for home, while third-placed Current Option was second. Safe Voyage came wide and late and only just failed to get there.
The handicapper has raised John Quinn's horse by 3lb to a mark of 100, but that is still 16lb lower than his peak. He is nine now, but he proved here that he retains lots of ability. He had run well in his previous race too to finish just two lengths behind the same I'm A Gambler in a Goodwood handicap. Seven furlongs is his trip, and he is at his best when there is an ease in the ground, so he will be of interest as we move into the autumn. He holds an entry in the Challenge Cup at Ascot on 1st October and, third in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot three years ago, he will be of interest if he lines up in that.
Empirestateofmind did well to keep on as well as he did to finish second on the one-mile handicap at Doncaster on Sunday. Prominent from early, just behind a strong pace that Master Richard and Johan set, he came under a ride at the two-furlong marker, but he picked up well. He appeared to get a little out-paced initially, but he found plenty for pressure. He stayed on well towards the far side and hit the front inside the final furlong. He was run down by Atrium, who finished well from the rear, but he kept on admirably to go down by just a neck in the end, finishing a length clear of third-placed Arthur's Realm.
John Quinn's horse did well in the circumstances, keeping on well in a race in which the hold-up horses came to the fore. He did best of the prominent racers, with the winner, fourth and fifth all held up. He has had plenty of racing, but he is only four and he is progressing nicely now. He has now finished second in three of his last four races, and he has won the other one, and his last three runs have probably been the best three runs of his life. He is at his best on soft ground, so he will remain of interest if the ground eases further, and he is effective over a mile, but he stays nine furlongs and, out of a mare who won over a mile, he is worth another try now over 10.
Yashin did well to finish as close as he did in the "Northfields" Handicap, the 10-furlong handicap at The Curragh on Sunday which brought the curtain down on Irish Champions Weekend. Allowed drift back in the field early on by Scott McCullagh form his wide draw, he was last of the 22 runners as they stared to race down the hill, but he appeared to be going as fast as he could go. Still last as they raced to the two-furlong marker, he responded well to his riders encouragement, he stayed on well through traffic to get up for sixth place behind the three Johnny Murtagh-trained horses who filled the first three places, closest at the finish.
This was Yashin's first run since he finished last of 19 runners in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot in June. That obviously wasn't his running, he reportedly came home stiff, and he had a nice progressive profile going into that race. Given a good break by trainer Jessica Harrington, this was a most encouraging return. Weak in the market beforehand, he could come on appreciably for this run. Also, he raced as if this 10-furlong trip is on the sharp side for him, he won over a mile and a half at Leopardstown in May, and he will be of interest now wherever he goes next, ideally stepped up to 12 furlongs again or even beyond.
Tahiyra was really impressive in winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes, in coming away from the unbeaten filly Meditate, with the pair of them finishing clear. But Never Ending Story ran a really nice race to finish fourth, and it would be worthwhile following Aidan O'Brien's filly now.
Settled in mid-division by Wayne Lordan, the Dubawi filly was a little short of room as they raced inside the final two furlongs. Her rider had to wait for Tahiyra to go on, and then she got squeezed out of it as Eternal Silence Gan Teorainn converged in front of her. Knocked back to second last at that point, she did well to pick up as well as she did from there, staying on nicely to take fourth place.
Winner of the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown in July, Aidan O'Brien's filly didn't run badly in a Group 2 race over seven furlongs at Deauville last month, but it may be that we won't see the best of her until she steps up in trip. Out of Belmont Oaks winner Athena, a three-parts sister to Irish Oaks and Ribblesdale Stakes winner Bracelet, from the family of Sea The Stars and Galileo, she holds entries in the Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs and in the Rockfel Stakes over seven, but she will be of greatest interest if she takes her chance in the Fillies' Mile. And she could morph into a high-class middle-distance filly for next season.
The Flying Five was all about Highfield Princess, she was brilliant again, demonstrating her speed and her talent as well as her versatility, but the performance that Dragon Symbol put up in finishing fifth behind her from his low draw may have gone a little under the radar. Roger Varian's horse was well back in the field early on, he was only 12th or 13th racing towards the two-furlong marker, and he was out on the right wing, furthest from the stands rail. He came under a ride from Shane Foley inside the two-furlong pole, but, as Highfield Princess went clear and moved over towards the stands side, he kept on well on the far side to finish fifth. He was well beaten by the winner, but he was beaten less than two lengths for the runner-up spot, and he did best by far of the low-drawn horses who raced on the far side.
First past the post in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot last year as a three-year-old, the Cable Bay colt has won just once this season, a conditions race at Hamilton in July for which he was sent off at 1/2, but this run proved that he is in good form as we move into the autumn. He obviously goes well at Ascot, and he is at least as effective over six furlongs as he is over five, so he will be of interest if he takes up in entry in the British Champions Sprint Stakes on Champions' Day at Ascot next month.